Congress may have been getting a bad rep about its lack of ability to get things done—particularly before it went on its summer recess last week. But when it comes to bills related to occupational therapy, we’re happy to report that Congress was very productive!

Here are four things that Congress actually did before taking its 5-week summer recess:

1) Passed the Autism CARES bill: Congress passed the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act (Autism CARES Act) on July 31. The bill reauthorizes research, surveillance, and education programs related to ASD. Read more about the bill and changes it makes to the existing law.

2) Veterans Health Care compromise: Another important victory in Congress was the bi-partisan agreement on legislation to address ongoing issues with veterans' access to health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our blog post outlines the ways the bill will affect occupational therapy.

3) Passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: Last month Congress passed and President Obama signed into law this act, which will modernize and improve federal workforce development programs including vocational rehabilitation. Read how it will affect occupational therapy.

4)  Highway Bill: What’s a highway bill have to do with health care? Actually, this bill included important funding (that was predicted to run out by the end of the summer) that supports programs such as older driver initiatives. AOTA has partnered with the agency that runs this initiative, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), on several older driver and driving and community mobility programs. Here’s some information about AOTA’s work with NHTSA.

Because it’s the summer recess, chances are your legislators are at home in your district and state. It’s a great time to do grassroots advocacy! Here are some tips from the Capital Briefing in OT Practice magazine (AOTA member login required). 

Want to see how things work in Washington first hand? Advocate for the profession by joining us for AOTA’s Capitol Hill Day on September 15.